Jon Lester, the Cubs’ premiere off-season signing, says he will attempt to pick a runner off first base sometime this season, and most likely before June. Having not stepped off the rubber and made a toss to hold a runner close since 2013, while he was a member of the Boston Red Sox, many speculate he’s either scared of throwing the ball away or perhaps scarred by fans who impatiently booed him in the past when he seemingly wasted their time with the largely fruitless endeavor.
Lester said neither was the case, and that he would fire a ball at Anthony Rizzo sometime this season, when he’s damn well ready.
“Look, I’ll make a pickoff move sometime this season,” said the obviously perturbed southpaw on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. “Just because you don’t do something for two years don’t mean anything. I got some cool, elite next-level pickoff moves up my sleeve that I’ve been working on, I’m just waiting for the right time to debut them. But for sure, sometime this year. Probably by June. When I’m goddamn ready.”
The last time Lester attempted to halt a running game was April 30, 2013 in Toronto. With the Blue Jays’ speedy Rajai Davis on first, Lester made four throws over, none successful in picking him off. Then, on a 3-1 count, a seemingly distracted Lester served up a lollipop to slugger Edwin Encarnacion that might still be traveling.
Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, caught seemingly off-guard by this anomaly, apologized to Cubs fans and said the team would try to re-work Lester’s contract to add a clause with incentives for pickoff throws.